Living versus Existing -being on psychotropic medications long term

Since I was a young child, I had always suffered from depression. At the time, it was likely situational. I’ll spare the details, but there was a lot of alcohol involved, a lot of violence and a lot of terrorizing pretty much everyone in the household. My parents split when I was 5 and I stayed with my mother. She dated a few men here and there, but overall they were decent or indifferent toward me. She met and married my step father when I was 9. He was a horribly abusive person, mostly along emotional lines. Again, I chocked up the depression and suicidal ideation to it being situational in hindsight.

I moved out when I was 17 and did whatever I could to make ends meet. I was lucky to start in the industry that I still work in when I was 19. I had pretty bad PTSD at that time; it seems I didn’t know how to exist without constant conflict. I married the girl I had seen all through high school at 20 and we divorced when I was 22. Shortly thereafter my best friend lost her battle with depression and took her own life which sent me into a downward spiral that would last most of my 20’s. I’m still affected by that to this day on some levels.

So, the question for me always was if the deep depressions I felt were merely a product of experiences, or if they were more chemical in nature. I never did quite feel like myself, though I didn’t really know who that was. I just felt like I was wearing someone else’s skin for the most part. Sometime around 30 I figured out who I was, shed the past and started living my life on my own terms. I then started to see glimpses of the real me from time to time.

Throughout the years though, I had been on such a mix of medications and in and out of therapy with all sorts of approaches. At some point with therapy, there are no more secrets to tell, no more hidden truths to discover and no more techniques to learn in order to cope. As for pharmacology, that’s a tedious process of starting a medication, upping the dose until it’s maxed out, giving it time to work if it’s going to, then tapering off before starting the next one. When single medications don’t work, then the combinations start.

Combinations.. That’s where I’m at right now. I have a high dose of Lamictal, Wellbutrin and a moderate dose of Lexapro. Limictal saved my life. Hands down, that’s the only medication that ever gave me a sense of levity to get through each day without being on the edge of using whatever was near me to take my own life. The thing is though, it dulls my nerves. It takes away that creative spark that’s set me apart professionally. I don’t feel things with nearly the intensity that I used to, good or bad. In essence, I’ve been numbed. The other meds are to help with the depression, but I’m a bit dubious of how effective they are. So as to not rock the boat or start another cycle of trial and error, I’ll just keep taking them as prescribed and see how things go.

So, on to the meat of what the title of the post is about. I’ve been on psychotropics for so long, each altering my mood in one way or another, I feel like I’ve lost whomever it is that I would be otherwise. Maybe that person is gone forever. Maybe this is me and I’m just underwhelmed. I’ve always thought I had pretty good potential to do something important in my life. Not grandiosity or anything, but I’m fairly intelligent, can see patterns in things that most overlook and I’m able to stick with something longer than most if I believe there’s more to be found or gained. Do I like the current me? Sort of.. There’s an emptiness there that I can’t ignore. It’s not that I believe that it can be filled by having a child or some other profound change, but rather it’s just a hole left from life experiences. Would I be willing to take some medication that would make me not feel, or at least not feel sadness or emptiness? Absolutely. Would I be willing to give up whatever must be given up in the way of side effects for such a drug? Yes. I think that would be worth a hefty price. The thing is.. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t even know who I’d be if I were to try to become someone else or a better version of myself for that matter. I’m not alone in this world. I have a wonderful marriage. I have friends and some family. Even with those people that love and care for me, I feel like I’m a million miles away and have no real way of reaching them, or them reaching me.

Where do the meds drop off and I begin? How much of who I am is a product of medication versus whatever part of me is left?


2 thoughts on “Living versus Existing -being on psychotropic medications long term”

  1. You’re asking questions that I don’t think can ever be answered because I don’t think there are answers. I’ve wondered the same thing about myself and whether I am someone separate from my life-long depression or not. I don’t have the extensive medication experience you do, but I understand that outward conditions (like an abusive upbringing) can actually change brain chemistry. I see occasional glimpses of a happy person inside me, and I sometimes let myself think that maybe there is hope for me. But I think, ultimately, that I am more or less in my final form mentally/emotionally.

    1. But yet you push on. Depression has been such a large part of how I experience life that I sometimes wonder if my brain simply doesn’t know how to operate without it. If you get glimpses, I’d say that’s a really good thing. Is there, but the challenge may be in how to access it.

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